By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan’s Lady Bulldog volleyball team got off to a great start for the 2018 season by taking wins over Lake Oconee Academy (Class A public school) and Gatewood (Class AA GISA private school). The girls defeated LOA 25-16/26-24 in straight sets while besting Gatewood 25-13/25-21. The young team has only two seniors on their roster (Bailey Shultz and Nijah Young), but the sophomore class is loaded with talent. Emma Silvey, Anna Cox, Brooke Butler, and Mckenzie Larate in particular showed why this group will be a force to contend with for the next three years. Lone freshman, Sam Crowley, also showed her ability and will be a serious contributor this season.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the first set against LOA, MOCO went on a 10-1 run on serves and plays made by Shultz, Young, Silvey, Cox, Butler, Crowley, and Larate. Silvey and Butler were especially dominant at the net with blocks, kills, and spikes. LOA battled back to close the gap to 17-14 before Morgan finished out the set by outscoring the Titans 8-2.
The second set was much closer with LOA showing they weren’t about to quit. The biggest lead by either squad was three points. With the game tied at 24-all, LOA’s serve was long and Larate finished out the set with a nice serve to give Morgan the win.
The Lady Dogs then faced off with private school Gatewood from Eatonton. Morgan took control of the first set early going from an early 2-2 tie to take a big 10-2 advantage. Cox reeled off eight consecutive points on her serve for the lead. The closest the Lady Gators would get after that was at 14-7 with Randall finishing out the set on a big-time kill at 25-13.
Gatewood made the second set interesting by battling MOCO the entire way. They took a 16-12 lead before Morgan got hot on the service game of Crowley. After a spike by Larate to regain the serve, Crowley reeled off five points on serve to regain an 18-16 lead. After that, the Lady Dogs were able to hold on for the 25-21 win. Larate was again big in the final moments of the contest with two spikes and a block. Morgan held a slim 2e-21 lead before Butler got the final two points to seal the deal.
After the game, Shultz said, “We played well for our first two games. It was a way better start than we had last season. I think it’s good to start with these teams and work our way up.” The other senior, Young, commented, “I did alright, but could have done better. Our team did great.”
Coach Olivia Daniel said, “We’re undefeated at home. It was great to get two big wins in our home opener. We’ve got to keep pushing them, but I’m not disappointed at all with the effort. We certainly haven’t reached our potential and have a lot of games ahead of us. This weekend I felt they played incredible. I feel like they really started to mesh together. We lost the silver bracket championship by two in the third set against Westminster Christian Academy. We play WCA at home on Tuesday so it should be a really great game!”
Morgan is now 3-1 on the young season.